Scheduling a forthcoming DASA (Defunct ASA) check ride, and it’s not funny.

My conjecture from the sideline:

CFI – Certified Flight Instructor
DPE – Designated Pilot Examiner

– Plausible hone conversation between CFI and DPE –

CFI: Hi , Jim here… used to be at Castle ASA remember me?
Hey listen, I’ve got a student ready for a commercial check ride real soon.

DPE: Hi Jim, I’ve heard you guys were closed and Prince and Reny are in hot water…………..
so what about this check ride? Has he met all requirements and the paper work ready?

CFI: Yup. no problem there, he’s ready and I’ll have all paper work ready for you.
How about Saturday at Yandell Ranch OK?

DPE: Where?

CFI: you know the small private field about 7 miles west of town on 132…
we’ve got owner’s permission and everything.

DPE: why not at muni? Besides the runway is way too short over there and they even don’t have fuel.

CFI: we’ve been doing a lot of flying at private fields lately because feds and repo guys are snooping around for some reason, and we’d like to keep them off our tail, you know.

oh don’t worry about fuel, we call up Prince and Reny on cellphone and they deliver it right up,
normally they carry few 5 gallon cans in the car.

DPE: what? You guys been using auto gas? Do you have a STC for that?

CFI: Prince said we do, and I trust him.

DPE: Yah right!

CFI: Hey listen, Prince and Reny are just driving up, I’ve got to run, I’ll call you again later. Click….

DPE: Tche, tche! (shaking head)

Got the picture?

echo yankee, out!

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Open Letter to the FAA Flight Standard District Office, Fresno, CA

James Murray- Operations Supervisor
David Lehman – Airworthiness Supervisor

In Re: American School of Aviation

Dear Messrs Murray and Lehman:

In the FAA Aircraft Registry records, there appears to exist conflicting records that are likely to constitute a violation in compliance with the statutory requirement relating to civil aircraft registry in the US.

Synopsis:
American School of Aviation, Inc. is a California corporation with its president and other corporate officer(s) are not U.S. citizen.

Title 14 CFR Part 47 of the Federal Aviation Regulations (FAR) governs the requirement related to the civil aircraft registration in the US

Part 47.3 stipulates Registration required.
Part 47.5 defines Applicants.
Part 47.7 defines U.S. citizens and resident aliens with respect to civil aircraft registration.
Part 47.9 defines “Corporations not U.S. citizen”.
Part 47.9 (f) stipulates thrice annual report requirement by the registrant to the FAA.

Analysis:
All ASA aircraft except one (30 before 8/04/08 down to 11 as of 8/14/2008 ) are currently registered under FAR Part 47.7 and issued aircraft registration certificate bearing “Corporation” instead of its true and factual status of its corporate entity as “Foreign Corporation”. In the FAA AC Form 8050-1 Aircraft Registration Application, there is a specific box to be checked off for Non-citizen Corporation and provided along with “Certification” section for the applicant’s certification for a non-citizen corporation. If these sections were properly completed in the ASA aircraft registration application, all of its registration then should have been issued under Part 47.9 with the respective registration certificate bearing ”Foreign corporation”

Conclusion:
If ASA has made erroneous entry in its aircraft registration application and submitted to the FAA Aircraft Registry knowingly or not knowingly and obtained its registration certificate, then the ASA aircraft are not registered under Part 47.9 and not in compliance with Part 47.9(f) requirement. This ipso facto invalidates all of its registrations under FAR 47.41(a) ( 8 ) (ii) and requires ASA to surrender all of its invalidated registration certificate immediately in accordance with FAR 47.43 (b).

One of the school owners had publicly stated their school received 109 surveillance visits from your office in 2007, yet why this blatant aircraft registration violation eluded the filed inspectors scrutiny is beyond me.

There exists an ample evidence based on flight activities taking place recently at Hayward, Modesto and elsewhere to indicate the school is still operating under the guise of new satellite base after its 141 school certification has been long presumed to be suspended if not revoked already.

In view of the matter affecting the welfare and interests of all those victimized students as well as that of local aviation community, it would be most appropriate that your office offers a public announcement in connection with the ASA matter as soon as aircraft registration investigation is completed.

All eyes are on your prudent and swift enforcement action.

Respectfully submitted.

Echo Yankee

Follow up: Open letter to SABA President Khurshid Khoja, Esquire

My view from the sideline:

Dear Mr. Khoja,

I am following up on my open letter of 7/30/2008 addressed to you subsequent to SABA’s announcement to come to aid for the ASA students stranded in Atwater upon its sudden closure in June 2008.

Have you received a reply since from the DA’s office in response to your earlier request then made?

So, what sort of progress has been made and continue to be made at SABA to help those former ASA students in distress?

Why no SABA initiative so far for assisting the victimized students to file an individual or consolidated crime report with the sheriff’s department, the first step necessary for a criminal prosecution from the victim’s end?

Do you really believe in your trained legal professional mind that the ASA students qualify for a “U” visa with an employment authorization that I believe you’re referring to in your earlier statement? If not, please explain.

What makes you believe the “U” visa relief will work in this situation despite seemingly clear cut eligibility requirement that precludes the former ASA students?

http://www.ilrc.org/resources/U%20Visa/Frequently%20Asked%20Questions.html

Above questions are not meant to be rhetorical and I truly believe the former ASA student’s interests along with that of public would be best served by the real answers provided in order to keep a false hope of any kind from emerging.

At the risk of giving an impression of being overly impatient, I adjure your thoughtful response in a timely fashion.

Respectfully submitted.

Echo Yankee
ATP/A&P

ASA could become the subject of a criminal probe led by FBI

ASA students celebrating Reny Kozman's b'day, a file photo.

ASA students celebrating Reny Kozman's b'day, a file photo.

American School of Aviation,  already besought with civil lawsuits, could become the subject of a criminal probe led by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Merced County District Attorney Larry Morse II has asked the FBI to take a role into the investigation of the American School of Aviation. Morse said the district attorney’s office needs the FBI’s assistance in performing forensic accounting to discover if crimes were committed by Manpreet “Prince” Singh and his wife Reny Kozman, who co-owned the flight school along with partners in India.

“There are a variety of issues involving potential criminal fraud arising from the situation,” Morse wrote in the letter sent to the FBI.

As a matter of course, the FBI will not confirm if they are involved in a criminal investigation.

The students’ tuition fees were supposed to be kept in a trust account and charged as the students progressed through their flight training. A lawsuit filed by 52 of the students in July alleges that Singh directed the tuition directly into his own accounts. It accuses him of fraud, breach of contract and misrepresentation. Among the allegations made against the school and Singh is that they continued to recruit students despite knowing they could not provide the instruction as promised.

The students are seeking $2.2 million in refunds and punitive damages. The lawsuit was filed with the Merced County Superior Court, but the papers have not been served upon Singh because he hasn’t been located, according to attorney Palvir Shoker, who filed the lawsuit on behalf of the students.

A second set of 10 students has filed a similar lawsuit and is seeking $200,000. The lawsuit was filed by attorney Jeffrey Poindexter and claims that the students were directed to a fake ASA Web site where they could ostensibly keep track of how their tuition funds were being deducted. The complaints states: “This accounting system was set up to deceive and mislead the students. As soon as the students would make a tuition payment of $40,000, the defendants would spend all of the money. This allegation is premised upon the fact that the defendants have conceded they owe the refunds, but claim they have no money to pay the refunds…

“By immediately spending the entirety of a student’s tuition, without providing the promised flight training and education, the defendants either purposefully, recklessly or negligently began operating as a sort of ponzi scheme. Each new student’s tuition would go to pay the costs and expense of earlier enrolled students.”

Reny Kozman has previously blamed the school’s financial hardships on partners based in India, who she says stole the school’s money in her email to SecondCity last month.

Open letter to SABA President Khurshid Khoja, Esquire

In Re: American School of Aviation

Dear Mr.Khoja

I applause and thank you for the SABA’s decision to come to aid for the American School of Aviation students stranded in Atwater. It’s a light at the end of the tunnel with a hope of getting out the quagmire at long last.

Early this year, Silver State Helicopters (SSH) school in Las Vegas closed by filing a Chapter 7. Over 2,500 students lost $70,000 each. They operated 250 helicopters at 40 school locations. If the past similar school closure cases are any indication, the prosecution of the ASA case seems less likely. Your writing to the county DA requesting criminal charges to be brought against the unscrupulous school owner(s) is a step in the right direction.

For the recovery of student fund in absence of any disposable assets likely to be left with ASA, I am of an opinion that only viable means is to name both the Kingfisher Airlines and the student loan lending institutions as co-defendants in the lawsuit. The desire to keep their public image from tarnished is likely to make them think twice to get entangled in a lawsuit and it would bring them swiftly to the settlement table.

While no lawyers are miracle workers, I trust that one of your able member lawyers with legal expertise in this venue and judicial connection in India could rise to an occasion to build a strong enough case to achieve success in recovering the lost student’s fund.

In July 2007, the Bureau for Private Post secondary and Vocational Education (BPPVE) was abolished much to the public dismay leaving the consumers statewide unprotected. While your organization’s bifurcated effort in civil and criminal front continues, it would serve a great public interest at this juncture if you could take one step further to push for a timely legislative enactment for the Student Tuition Recovery Fund (STRF) to safeguard student’s tuition from school failures and closures in the future. Real social justice then becomes apparent not as something that will be but something that is. I wish you success in this endeavor. Until such time, sir I am.

Respectfully submitted.

Echo Yankee
ATP/A&P

South Asian Bar Association of Northern California to help ASA students

It seems that help is on its way for the students of the American School of Aviation,  South Asian Bar Association of Northern California (SABA) has offered assistance to the more than 100 stranded students for assessing their legal options to get justice and remain within the U.S.

A press release issued by the South Asian Bar Association confirms the report. “These students have been placed in a really tough situation. They did not receive the opportunity to complete their coursework as promised and have not been assured that refunds will be provided. Many of them do not have permanent housing and some of them are still attempting to transfer to other schools,” said Shaamini Babu, Co-chair of SABA’s Pro Bono Committee, who is working with Ashok Sinha, consul for community affairs at the Consulate General of India in San Francisco, to ascertain the facts of the case and the legal issues that the students are facing.

Fortunately, the Department of Homeland Security has expressed its wish not to pressurize the students to leave the country upon the expiration of their current visas.

SABA President Khurshid Khoja has asked Merced County District Attorney to bring criminal charges against the owners of the American School of Aviation, a critical move, which will help students obtain U.S. visas for them to remain in the country indefinitely and receive work authorization.

SABA also provided the students with referrals to attorneys in the area willing to take on the civil matter on a contingency basis.

“Our Pro Bono Committee normally doesn’t refer clients to counsel willing to work pro bono unless the public interest is directly implicated. However, in this situation we were able to find SABA members willing to work on contingency because this potential breach of contract renewed our community’s outrage over the exploitation of immigrant South Asians by swindlers, traffickers, and other opportunists who prey on the vulnerable,” said Vid Prabhakaran, SABA Vice President-External.

In this type of contingency arrangement, the attorney receives a percentage of the recovery, only if a recovery is made. In the event that the attorney is unsuccessful, he suffers the costs of bringing the legal action including the costs of filing fees, expert fees, investigation fees, and the attorney’s own legal fees.

Students can contact SABA members and discuss their further plans on below given contact details:

General inquiries about ASA cases should be directed to SABA President Khurshid Khoja via e-mail or mail to:

South Asian Bar Association of Northern California
c/o The Chugh Firm
4800 Great America Parkway, Ste 310
Santa Clara, CA 95054